Alastair Natkiel said the scene was a brilliant ‘red herring’ (Picture: BBC)
*Warning: Contains spoilers for Line of Duty*
Line of Duty star Alastair Natkiel, known for playing OCG member Lee Banks on the hit drama, has spoken about the ‘plot hole’ which left some fans reeling in series six.
Millions of viewers were shocked when DCI Ian Buckells (Nigel Boyle) was unmasked as the ‘fourth man’ earlier this month – and many at the time pointed to one scene in episode four which they believed contradicted the big reveal.
The sequence saw Jimmy Lakewell (Patrick Baladi) brought into Ian’s cell, who looked visibly shaken, before Alastair’s Lee strangled Jimmy in front of him.
Fans thought that Ian’s reaction suggested he couldn’t have been the one who ordered the killing – possibly hinting that he wasn’t H at all, but a stooge for an officer higher up in the police service.
Weighing in on the theory, Alastair told Metro.co.uk: ‘I have seen a couple of comments where people say: “Well, if he knew that it was happening, why was he so scared?”
‘I think the point is that he’s not this criminal mastermind. He’s not a hardened criminal himself. All he’s basically done, as he says in that final episode in his final interview, is he’s basically been facilitating the OCG by passing messages on and diverted operations within the police so the OCG can carry out their work.’
Lee Banks played a bigger role in the sixth series of Line of Duty (Picture: BBC)
Going on to rationalise Ian’s credentials as H, the actor added: ‘He’s never killed anyone. He’s never slit anyone’s throat. So even if he knows it’s about to happen, and even though he might have had some part in the message coming to [Lee Banks], that doesn’t stop him being nervous about what he knows he’s about to see.’
It came as a shock to many viewers when Ian was revealed as H, with everyone from Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) to Philip Osborne (Owen Teale) and Patricia Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin) suspected of being the bent copper at the top of the tree.
AC-12 brought Ian in for questioning following the discovery of new evidence that showed he spelled ‘definately’ the same way as H did in correspondence with Jo Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) and John Corbett (Stephen Graham).
Ian Buckells was revealed as H in the final episode of series six (Picture: BBC/World Productions)
Alastair, however, believed that the character’s motivations – and his reaction to the killing in his cell – all stand up to questioning.
The 40-year-old said: ‘[Ian has] never been in the thick of it. He’s never been there when we’ve been slitting people’s throats, or right back in the first very first season where Tomi May who plays Miroslav is threatening to cut off Martin Compson’s fingers with bolt cutters.
‘Even if he knows that stuff is going on, he’s never there. He’s never seen it. It’s a clever little red herring as well, because it throws the audience off the scent when they’re playing detective.’
Line of Duty’s creator Jed Mercurio recently revealed a huge clue hinting that the identity of H was hidden way back in series one.
Speaking on the Obsessed With… Line of Duty on BBC Sounds podcast with former Dot Cottan actor Craig Parkinson, Jed discussed the telling moment from the show’s fifth episode which suggested Ian was a bent copper from the very start – where Dot Cottan (Craig Parkinson) asks Ian if he can have a private conversation with the guilty man in the back of a van.
Line of Duty is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.